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Showing posts from December, 2011

HOTEL ROYAL AND THE UNVEILING OF SHANGRI-LA

The story of the first hotel of repute in Nepal starts with King Tribhuvan opening up the country after his return from a short exile in India. The year was 1951 A.D. Just a few years earlier King Tribhuvan was the first monarch in several generations to be granted permission to leave the country on a private visit since the Rana family started ruling Nepal. In 1944 Maharajah Juddha Shumsher the prime minister made arrangements for the king to leave for Calcutta on health grounds and my father Kiran Shumsher, Juddha's son then Major General was deputed to look after the royal visit.

Boris Lissanevitch was the purveyor of European style wining and dining to the metropolis that was Calcutta. The name of Boris's famed establishment was "Club 300", the name derived from his limiting its membership to 300 of Calcutta's elite while women too were allowed in bucking the Colonial trend. It became hugely successful. Soon it became as legendary as the bar in the movie &quo…

GODAVARI SCHOOL REVISITED

Starting this school was one of the epochal steps Nepal took to open itself to the outside world: hitherto Nepalese students going to school in India could now get proper education in the English medium in the Kathmandu valley itself. Fr. Moran, S.J. having started a similar Jesuit school in Patna in India, had the wherewithal to convert the Rana buildings and its expansive grounds into a school of high quality. Necessary permissions were granted in 1951 A.D. through the office of General Mrigendra Shumsher, the Director of Public Education, who was very influential as he was the son of Commander-in-Chief Baber Shumsher J. B. Rana. Promptly Fr. Moran chartered a plane and brought from Patna one Land Rover, two tons of supplies and Fr. Frank Murphy and Fr. Ed Saxton in tow. Soon the Rana Regime would end and Nepal would enter a new era of experimentation with democracy.

In 1965, when I was first admitted to Godavari School in Class V, there were still buildings extant named after the…